Annapolis briefs

February 23, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER

'Choice' seeks local endorsement

Directors of a program that attempts to reach youths in Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services sought help from the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly to keep its contract.

Director LaMar Davis told the legislators on Wednesday that for the first time since 1999, Juvenile Services has put the program's services out for bid. He said that despite good results, the program has been under pressure to cut its budget while expanding services.

"Choice" serves about 60 youths in Washington County each year, he said. The program attempts to reach youths referred by Juvenile Services or by the courts before they get into serious trouble. "Choice keeps youth with their families, and not in placement," Davis said.


Caseworkers provide face-to-face contact with the youths and their families every day, he said. "We go to their schools; if they're not in school, we go to their homes and pick them up," he said.

Choice has been operating in Washington County for 10 years. Statewide, the program has compiled a low recidivism rate among participants. That fact - and the involvement of the participants' families - impressed the legislators.

"You've got my ear when you say the mom and dad are involved," said Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany.

The legislators agreed to get more information before making a decision to endorse Choice.

Library director backs capital grant bill

A bill to require $5 million per year for capital project grants for Maryland libraries got an endorsement Wednesday by Mary Baykan, director of the Washington County Free Library.

Baykan told the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee that "many libraries are in severe states of dilapidation," she said. "Many are in aging buildings."

The bill, sponsored by Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, would be effective with the fiscal year 2008 budget.

Baykan told the committee that other programs to aid with capital projects had ended in the 1990s. Other aid, she said, was being used to update technology in the state's libraries.

Senate Bill 709

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